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Fallout MMO Rights Officially Restored to Bethesda

By - Source: Bethesda Press Release | B 25 comments

Bethesda has emerged the winner in the dispute with Interplay over the Fallout MMO.

The drama surrounding the upcoming Fallout MMO between Bethesda and Interplay has finally concluded, with Bethesda/ZeniMax emerging from the arena victorious. Under the terms of the settlement, the license granted to Interplay to develop the Fallout MMO is null and void, and all rights granted to Interplay to develop a Fallout MMO revert back to Bethesda, effective immediately.

Interplay itself will walk away from the battle with $2 million USD in its pocket, but it will have no ongoing right to use the Fallout brand or any Fallout intellectual property for any game development. However the company will still be permitted to continue to sell the original Fallout Tactics, Fallout and Fallout 2 PC games through to December 2013, after which time all rights to market those games revert to and become the sole property of Bethesda.

Here's more straight from the press release which sums up the epic Bethesda/Interplay battle that's taken place over the last few years:

"The lawsuit against Interplay arose after Bethesda Softworks acquired all Fallout intellectual property rights from Interplay in April 2007, and conditionally licensed back to Interplay certain trademark rights to make a Fallout MMO, provided Interplay secured $30 million in financing for the MMO and commenced full scale development of the game by April 2009. Bethesda alleged in its complaint that Interplay failed to meet either condition of the license back agreement but refused to relinquish its license and insisted it would develop a Fallout MMO.  Bethesda filed suit to declare the license void.

"In a separate but related matter, Bethesda commenced a second action against a purported developer of the Fallout MMO, Masthead Studios, Bethesda Softworks LLC v Masthead Studios Ltd. In the course of the original lawsuit against Interplay, Interplay had claimed that it had engaged Masthead Studios to develop the Fallout MMO under its license, and contended that Masthead was engaged in full scale development of that game. Bethesda filed its separate lawsuit against Masthead to assert copyright infringement and other violations of Bethesda's intellectual property rights. Under the MMO license granted to Interplay, Interplay was not permitted to sublicense any rights granted without the prior approval of Bethesda, approval which had never been requested or granted.

"In responding to Bethesda's lawsuit, Masthead denied that it had been using any of Bethesda’s intellectual property in developing an MMO. Masthead and Bethesda settled that second lawsuit on December 29, 2011.  In the settlement, Masthead acknowledges it has no legal right to use any Fallout intellectual property, and agrees it will not use any such intellectual property of Bethesda in the future.  No payments were made by either party as part of this settlement. The two settlements resolve all pending litigation over the Fallout intellectual property owned by Bethesda."

As of this writing, Interplay has not issued a statement.

"While we strongly believe in the merits of our suits, we are pleased to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation while completely resolving all claims to the Fallout IP," said Robert Altman, Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax on Monday. "Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement or the overhang of others' legal claims."

Case closed.

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  • 3 Hide
    robthatguyx , January 10, 2012 12:08 AM
    damn was looking forword to that
  • 0 Hide
    alxianthelast , January 10, 2012 12:25 AM
    Question is why does Zenimax want the license back so bad? It stinks like Blizzard canning Ghost so many times after so much work went into it just to keep the brand pure.

    Hopefully they were working on something for the new consoles in the meantime and masthead doesn't suffer too badly from losing such a high profile IP before being able to bring it to market.
  • -4 Hide
    kikiking , January 10, 2012 12:38 AM
    bethesda sucks goat nuts, imagine all the work on that mmo.... ,masthead probably was working on other shit too.
  • Display all 25 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    xerroz , January 10, 2012 12:59 AM
    alxianthelastQuestion is why does Zenimax want the license back so bad? It stinks like Blizzard canning Ghost so many times after so much work went into it just to keep the brand pure. Hopefully they were working on something for the new consoles in the meantime and masthead doesn't suffer too badly from losing such a high profile IP before being able to bring it to market.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the reason is because they want to do an MMO based on the universe with their own resources. Or they're just greedy...really greedy. They've seen how profitable the franchise has become so they don't want anyone else but them to get all that cake. Fallout 4 is probably gonna sell twice as much as Fallout 3 did, they wouldn't want anyone else getting big cash from Fallout universe
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 10, 2012 1:39 AM
    Interplay is just not the same company, I don't think any of the original team who made fallout/baldurs gate etc are still there. I am not sad to see them lose this battle, bethesda might actually get around to releasing something someday that resembles a fallout MMO. Who knows what the new team interplay puts on it will churn out.
  • 9 Hide
    ashesofempires04 , January 10, 2012 1:53 AM
    The team who made the fallout series, and Baldur's Gate, used to be in Black Isle Studios. They now form the core of Obsidian Entertainment, and went on to make...Fallout: New Vegas. And several NWN games. So, they are still very much involved in both franchises, just with a different company. I'd rather see them do the Fallout MMO rather than whatever company Interplay dredged up.
  • 1 Hide
    dirtyferret , January 10, 2012 2:05 AM
    get your history right, Bioware developed Baldur's Gate and Black Isle published it. BlackIsle / Interplay developed Fallout.
  • 0 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 10, 2012 4:04 AM
    about time, now make it !
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , January 10, 2012 5:05 AM
    Now I hope Fallout MMO stays dead and buried. Didn't care if some other company was making it (don't play MMOs, never will) but I don't want Bethesda distracted from making Fallout 4 and TES VI.
  • 1 Hide
    theuniquegamer , January 10, 2012 5:23 AM
    I am waiting for fallout 4
  • 2 Hide
    billybobser , January 10, 2012 6:38 AM
    Well, if you can't make a smooth playing single player without game breaking bugs(ever), how are you going to manage an mmo.
  • -2 Hide
    steelbox , January 10, 2012 9:10 AM
    I wouldn't be surprised if the reason is because they want to do an MMO based on the universe with their own resources. Or they're just greedy...really greedy. They've seen how profitable the franchise has become so they don't want anyone else but them to get all that cake. Fallout 4 is probably gonna sell twice as much as Fallout 3 did, they wouldn't want anyone else getting big cash from Fallout universe

    [sarcastic]Oh sure lets let everyone have a share of the sales, 10 mil in profit is enough, lets not get greedy, why 500 mil? We don't need that! [/sarcastic]
    Would you let go of your milti-million prizewinning ticket, no? Greedy bastard.
  • -1 Hide
    cronik93 , January 10, 2012 10:56 AM
    Great, now make one.....
  • 1 Hide
    nottheking , January 10, 2012 10:59 AM
    xerrozThey've seen how profitable the franchise has become so they don't want anyone else but them to get all that cake. Fallout 4 is probably gonna sell twice as much as Fallout 3 did, they wouldn't want anyone else getting big cash from Fallout universe

    Yeah, I fear that Bethesda/Zenimax may yet become the next Activision; already, the reception (and design) of Skyrim, in context of the direction of the TES series, indicates it's rapidly heading the same direction as Call of Duty: lots of re-hashed work, faster, more predictable releases, geared towards a dumber audience, etc. Fallout is liable to go the same direction, too.

    TheCapuletBlack Isle developed the Planescape and Icewind Dale series, as well as one Baldurs gate series, in which NWN was the spiritual successor of them all. We're talking about:Feargus UrquhartChris AvalloneJosh SawyerAnd most notably Tim Cain (The Creator of the fallout world),

    More specifically, Black Isle made Fallout 2; it was the same people who made Fallout, but at the time they weren't a specific studio; just "the Fallout group" at Interplay.

    Oh, and Tim Cain is really too egotistical for his own good. (along with Anderson and Boyarski... Seriously, "Troika?" How stuck-up and self-centered can they be? I just see it as poetic justice that they only ever made 3 games, too) He didn't invent the world of Fallout; that was done by Interplay's founder, (and CEO at the time of Fallout's development) Brian Fargo. Fallout is a more-than-spiritual successor to his early work, Wasteland.
  • 5 Hide
    abel2 , January 10, 2012 11:39 AM
    So Interplay failed to deliver on two promised results in their contract with Bethesda and thus were forced to give up their license. Good, I was afraid this might turn into another court squabble like so many other tech arguments do.

    To those claiming Bethesda is a greedy company.. if you were to agree to a transaction in a store, ie you pay for something, and the company does not give you what was promised (what you paid for), then you are going to want your asset back (money). It is a pretty basic notion. Kind of frustrating that you fail to see that and thus revert to the "All large companies are inherently evil" routine.

    And to even read a post wherein Bethesda is compared to Call of Duty makes me want to slap you with a frozen trout. There is more ingenuity, imagination and work in a quarter of Skyrim than the devs of CoD put into the last 4 vomitted iterations of the franchise.
  • 1 Hide
    rebel1280 , January 10, 2012 12:31 PM
    abel2So Interplay failed to deliver on two promised results in their contract with Bethesda and thus were forced to give up their license. Good, I was afraid this might turn into another court squabble like so many other tech arguments do. To those claiming Bethesda is a greedy company.. if you were to agree to a transaction in a store, ie you pay for something, and the company does not give you what was promised (what you paid for), then you are going to want your asset back (money). It is a pretty basic notion. Kind of frustrating that you fail to see that and thus revert to the "All large companies are inherently evil" routine. And to even read a post wherein Bethesda is compared to Call of Duty makes me want to slap you with a frozen trout. There is more ingenuity, imagination and work in a quarter of Skyrim than the devs of CoD put into the last 4 vomitted iterations of the franchise.

    HAHAHA i award you 100 internets sir! Love that last statement on the CoD devs, so freaking true!
  • 1 Hide
    nottheking , January 10, 2012 12:38 PM
    abel2There is more ingenuity, imagination and work in a quarter of Skyrim than the devs of CoD put into the last 4 vomitted iterations of the franchise.

    Yes, but there's less in Skyrim and Oblivion combined than in Morrowind, and less ingenuity and imagination in those three games combined than in Daggerfall... See the trend I'm hinting at? No, Skyrim isn't a Modern Warfare 3 or Black Ops... But then again, if you looked back at the very first CoD game you wouldn't recognize the similarities with the current versions, either. Just to put it one way, Daggerfall's fully-contiguous, non-zoned 3D map is over two orders of magnitude larger than the next-largest RPGs ever made. (a few games have claimed closer sizes, but having examined and played them, I can confirm none of those claims are remotely accurate, and are all grossly inflated)

    Coincidentally, the production team changed severely: the loss of Julian Lefay as the lead developer hurt a lot, and the atmosphere similarly took a hit when the composition changed hands from Eric Heberling to Jeremy Soule. (Soule's work fit Secret of Evermore, but none of the subsequent games he worked on)
  • 1 Hide
    digitalzom-b , January 10, 2012 1:12 PM
    abel2 Kind of frustrating that you fail to see that and thus revert to the "All large companies are inherently evil" routine. And to even read a post wherein Bethesda is compared to Call of Duty makes me want to slap you with a frozen trout. There is more ingenuity, imagination and work in a quarter of Skyrim than the devs of CoD put into the last 4 vomitted iterations of the franchise.


    Couldn't have said it better myself!

    I just wish Bethesda would consider multiplayer for themselves! A lot of opportunities out there... and a fallout MMO has a lot of potential... I can it now... "Guilds" being groups of bandits/outlaws making their fortresses across the landscape, or hunkering down and reinforcing in small, ruined neighborhoods, waiting to ambush players who try to steal from them...

    MAN...
  • 1 Hide
    nottheking , January 10, 2012 1:40 PM
    digitalzom-b"Guilds" being groups of bandits/outlaws making their fortresses across the landscape, or hunkering down and reinforcing in small, ruined neighborhoods, waiting to ambush players who try to steal from them... MAN...

    There's no real need to think about trying to tie-in stuff like that: the players will justify it themselves, as with any form of in-game organization. All of these elements common in modern MMOs didn't exist OFFICIALLY in early ones... But were simply ad-hoc'd in by players. Guilds are an evolution of LAN-party Doom-era clans, duels were done informally, and in-game events were creatively engineered from whatever the game engine allowed.

    Just leave it up to the players to justify what, exactly, their guild does. The players know best.
  • 1 Hide
    digitalzom-b , January 10, 2012 2:56 PM
    notthekingThere's no real need to think about trying to tie-in stuff like that: the players will justify it themselves, as with any form of in-game organization. All of these elements common in modern MMOs didn't exist OFFICIALLY in early ones... But were simply ad-hoc'd in by players. Guilds are an evolution of LAN-party Doom-era clans, duels were done informally, and in-game events were creatively engineered from whatever the game engine allowed.Just leave it up to the players to justify what, exactly, their guild does. The players know best.


    Yes, but if the game tunnels you down paths and doesn't give you the freedom to construct cities or claim areas, then you're limited to imagination rather than official rule. That's a problem with games nowadays, everything is already set in stone... you're just a hero that kills the same big bad bass over and over until he drops your cool looking helmet. Developers don't leave the game open enough to allow for such activity. SWG had one thing right when it gave the freedom to build cities (might not have been the best implementation, but it was a start).
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